Kudlow’s Money Politics

Tough on the War, Tough on the Budget

Although White House Budget Director Rob Portman told me on Tuesday’s show that there would be no compromise deal on the pork section of the Iraq funding bill, Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) told me last night there could in fact be a deal.

Today’s Wall Street Journal also suggests a deal could be in the works. Apparently, rumors of pork’s death have been greatly exaggerated.

Any compromise deal on this roughly $25 billion of pork would seriously dilute the president’s strong message that he’s been selling for nearly ten straight days in his constant criticism of the Democrats. Namely, they don’t want to fund the war; they’re insisting on artificial troop withdrawal deadlines; they’re interfering with the commanders on the ground; and they’re breaking their pledge on budget restraint (and tax hikes).

The President is delivering a strong message. It’s a coherent message of war toughness and budget toughness. It’s a rallying cry to the country’s conservative base and it gives Congressional Republicans a bit more spine in the Democratic Congress. This is just what the political doctors ordered.

Some conservatives don’t care about the budget pork section of the Iraq funding bill. I’m not one of them’”I do care. It’s all part of this new, effective Bush message’”tough on the war and tough on the budget.

The bottom line here is if Mr. Bush overrules budget chief Rob Portman, and goes along with this pork spending compromise, his strong message will be greatly weakened.

Mr. Bush should stay on message for both Iraq and pork. It’s a good message.

Why undermine it?